line-item veto

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A line-item veto is a type of veto power that allows the executive to cancel specific parts of a bill (usually spending provisions) while signing into law the rest of the bill. While states give their governors a line-item veto, the Supreme Court declared the federal line-item veto unconstitutional in the landmark case of Clinton v. City of New York (1998). The unconstitutionality arises from the notion that a line-item veto violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine in that it authorizes the President “to effect the repeal of laws, for his own policy reasons,” without regard for the procedures set forth in Article I, § 7 of the Constitution. This unilateral power to change the text of a duly enacted statute is unconstitutional. The Court in Clinton went on to say that when Congress seeks to create a new procedure for creating laws, it must amend the Constitution. 

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]